5 Yoga Backbends for Beginners
Yoga backbends are beautiful and heart-opening, but they can be a bit intimidating and feel unsafe to try. Here are the basics you need to know to begin safely. Backbends strengthen and provide a natural energy boost. They also open our hips, chest and shoulders. The amazing release felt when you practice these yoga poses can completely change your yoga practice.
Five Best Yoga Backbends For Beginners
Backbends are a great way to improve your posture, but it is important to find a safe way to practice them. Prone backbends are the safest and easiest way to get started with this kind of pose.
1) Locust Pose
Locust pose is a great beginner backbend that focuses on creating a long and straight spine in your back. The muscles used to create the backbend will help tone the muscles along your spine, which will allow you to be better prepared for deeper backbending practices.
How to do it:
- Lie on your belly on a yoga mat and extend your legs, keeping your knees and toes facing the floor.
- Extend your tailbone toward your feet and press your pubic bone into the floor as you lengthen your chest away from the floor.
- Place your shoulder blades on your back, bring your arms in front of you and reach for your toes.
- As you broaden your chest, lift your legs and chest higher.
- Place your hands behind your back, then slowly lower the rest of your body to the floor.
2) Bow Pose
Dhanurasana is a great yoga pose to open the heart chakra, allowing your body to experience a gentle backbend. Dhanurasana can also be an energizing backbend that stretches the entire front of your body, including your shoulders and hip flexors.
How to do it:
- Lie on your belly on the floor, with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart, and tailbone pointing toward your feet.
- Press your pubic bone into the floor and extend through your thigh bones.
- Clasp your ankles with your hands.
- Lift the fronts of your shoulders, and slide your shoulder blades down your back (to stabilize your shoulder girdle and open the front of your chest).
- Press your feet into your hands to lift your thighs and chest higher for several deep breaths.
- Slowly release, letting go of hands, legs, and torso to the mat.
3) Camel Pose
This is a great back-bend to add to your practice when you’re ready to progress in your backbends. Use yoga blocks to make this pose easier: place the blocks on either side of your ankles, then place your hands on the blocks instead of reaching for your ankles.
How to do it:
- To do this pose, kneel with your hands on your hips and your knees in line with your shoulders.
- Inhale as you pull your tailbone toward the pubis and arch your back, sliding your palms over your feet until your arms are straight.
- Don't strain or flex your neck; keep it in a neutral position.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then slowly lower back down to starting position.
4) Bridge Pose
Beginner backbends like bridge pose can help you get a feel for correct alignment and engagement in more advanced belly-up poses. It's a gentle backbend that can be used as a stepping stone to deeper stretches.
Here's how you perform this posture:
- Start on your back with your hands by your sides and your knees bent.
- Your feet should be hip-width distance, parallel to each other and aligned with your hips.
- To help keep your legs straight, lightly squeeze the inner thighs together.
- Press into your feet and lift up one vertebra at a time from the mat, lowering down slowly.
5) Upward Facing Bow Pose
Upward facing bow pose is similar to bow pose, but because of the strength needed to press the body off the floor. It can be more challenging to remain focused on proper alignment.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back with your arms along your sides and your knees bent.
- Bring your heels under your knees, then place the crown of your head on the floor and press into your feet and hands to lift your body off the mat.
- Press down through your hands and straighten your arms, keeping your shoulder blades on your back.
- At the same time, lengthen the spine and open your chest.
- Hold for a few breaths, then slowly release the crown of your head back to the mat, lowering your body down one vertebrae at a time.
Finding time for yoga practice when you have busy days can be hard. There are times when taking a traditional class might not be an option. Maybe your schedule is all over the place, or perhaps you simply can't make it to yoga class in your area. Backbends present one of the most challenging aspects of yoga for many people so if you are looking for poses to help deepen your practice, try these!